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Idol Gives Back Comes Back

I’m a huge American Idol fan, and have been since Kelly Clarkson took home the first title. This year, Lee Dewyze is my personal favorite. But the best part of this season, I think, is that the Idol Gives Back Foundation has brought back the hugely popular “Idol Gives Back” televised benefit performance that was greatly missed during the 2009 season.

The brainchild of Simon Fuller, the creator and producer of American Idol, “Idol Gives Back” was invented in 2007 as a telethon-like production taking place during a regularly scheduled American Idol performance. Brilliant, actually, as the point was to take advantage of the largest television audience in history and encourage this huge audience to not just vote for their “Idol” but to donate some money and help change the world.

After the first show’s success, Fuller brought on the folks at Fox Broadcasting and formally created the Idol Gives Back Foundation to host the 2008 show. According to the Foundation’s website, “Idol Gives Back Foundation harnesses American Idol's ability to capture America's hearts and the power of entertainment to benefit some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world.” Start-studded performances and visits by the famous and the political highlighted the first two shows, which raised more than $140 million to benefit charities around the world.

And then, in 2009, nothing. No show, no “Idol Gives Back,” and I don’t remember anyone even mentioning why. Well this year, the folks at the Idol Gives Back Foundation are addressing the issue, saying that last year’s economic climate was too difficult to ask financially strapped Americans to make donations.

“In today’s tough economic times, it’s more important than ever – but more difficult than ever – to raise money to help those in need,” said Mike Darnell, FOX’s head of alternative programming. “With this season’s ‘Idol Gives Back,’ we’re focused on raising awareness about the challenges so many children and families currently face and demonstrating how even small donations can make a difference.”

We’ve already seen footage of Kris Allen’s visit to Haiti, and heard his moving rendition of “Let it Be,” with profits from downloads benefitting the relief effort there. Between now the April 21 broadcast, we’re sure to see footage from other Idols and judges travelling the world to show us the images that are often hard to see, but important just the same.

This year, the 2010 Idol Gives Back will benefit Malaria No More, the Children’s Health Fund, Feeding America, Save the Children and the United Nations Foundation. In addition to calling in your donation during the broadcast on April 21, you have the opportunity to start a fundraising team and utilize social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to encourage your friends to make donations now.

I’m so glad that “Idol Gives Back” is back.

Idol Gives Back
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